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New paper straw company in Rochester started by a mother-daughter team

Roc Paper Straws
Roc Paper Straws
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provided
A sample of the paper straws manufactured by Roc Paper Straws.

There’s a new company in town whose owners say it is one of only a handful of paper straw manufacturers in the U.S.

The mother-daughter team of Kathryn and Karrie Laughton have opened Roc Paper Straws, which makes a variety of what they call high quality, eco-friendly paper drinking straws.

Karrie Laughton is also the owner of Lux Lounge, a well-known local bar in the South Wedge neighborhood.

“So in my head I jokingly kind of said, I’m gonna make my own straws. And then I said, you know, I AM gonna make my own straws,” Laughton said. “So I started doing the research on what it would take to do that, and here we are, a bar owner opened a factory, with her mom.”

The duo has set up their paper straw company in a 10,000 sq. foot renovated space at 920 Exchange Street in Rochester that they are leasing.

Karrie Laughton said that it took three years of planning, perseverance and pandemic-related delays.

They invested a half-million dollars in new equipment, and the owners said their straws use a thicker grade paper that will not fall apart the way some other paper straws do, which the Laughtons said has been the biggest complaint among consumers when they have tried out other paper straws.

Kathryn Laughton and her daughter, Karrie Laughton
Roc Paper Straws
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provided
Kathryn Laughton and her daughter, Karrie Laughton of Roc Paper Straws.

The Roc Paper Straws product line, said the owners, is biodegradable, marine-safe and compostable, and it includes custom-branded straws with customer logos.

Kathryn Laughton says she likes working with her daughter, even if it is a bit of a role reversal for them since she now takes orders from Karrie.

“That’s the biggest challenge to me,” said Kathryn Laughton. “But we still laugh a lot. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s been absolutely wonderful to work with her.”

The company now employs 8 people and they hope to add more as the business grows. They are selling their products online and also operate a storefront at their manufacturing facility.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.